A strong plan to tackle port traffic gridlock
Last week I held a debate in Parliament on the problems of Dover gridlock. I called for the port, ferry companies and Government to take responsibility and work with our community to find a lasting solution.
Dover suffers traffic gridlock on a weekly basis. People sit in traffic for hours struggling to get home. Dover businesses lose trade because customers can't reach their premises. Emergency vehicles can't get to those in need. And large parts of the roadside on the A20 have become dumping grounds for litter (and worse) left by HGV drivers stuck in tailbacks.
Why? The Port of Dover handled record freight in 2014 - up 10% on the last year. And it's expected to grow further. There are not enough spaces for lorries to park. Ferry check in systems are antiquated and frequently fail. The seas can be rough, Calais workers like to go on strike and ferries are sometimes run aground or into the harbour wall.
When there are problems, the Police, Port and the Highways Agency are often too slow and ill-equipped to tackle problems when they arise. High volumes of Port traffic just plough into the middle of Dover, whether the Port is ready to take them or not. This creates gridlock - now happening on a weekly basis.
When there are problems at the port, it's always the people of Dover who pay the price. That must change.
I called for the traffic problems in Kent and Dover to be made a national strategic priority by Ministers. Tailbacks not only make life a misery for local people - they hamper national trade and prosperity. The Government should lead the way in finding a long-term infrastructure solution.
A dedicated lorry park for the advance check-in of lorries before they arrive at Dover is badly needed. The best location for a 1,000 space site is near Folkestone on the M20. The Government should fund for this through revenue from the HGV Road User Levy, while the Port and ferry companies should contribute.
The A20 should be made a clearway, as well as box junctions at all roundabouts and road junctions in Dover. This will ensure no parking or stopping is allowed and ease road access in Dover - particularly for long suffering Aycliffe.
The Roads Minister, John Hayes, responded very positively. He said our community should not be inconvenienced and the Government will address the problem. He said he would support Kent County Council in making the A20 a clearway. The Government is prepared to make funding available for lorry parks and improved IT systems to deal with traffic volumes. These proposals will be set out in detail before the end of the month.
When there are problems at the port, it is wrong the town should suffer in gridlock. I am doing all I can to see a lasting solution is delivered for our community.